16 Dec 2016

Arsenic-contaminated mine gets $2.6m clean up

6:19 pm on 16 December 2016

The country's most arsenic contaminated site has now been cleaned up, and reopened to the public.

The remains of a demolished red brick building at Prohibition Mine in Waiuta, surrounded by grass and shrubs. The former mine on the West Coast is rated as the most toxic site in New Zealand

The remains of a demolished red brick building at Prohibition Mine in Waiuta. Photo: Suplied / DOC

The Prohibition Mine - a former gold mine at Waiuta on the West Coast - lay open for 60 years, with concentrations of arsenic at 5000 times the safe human limit.

The danger was discovered a decade ago. The Department of Conservation started cleaning up the site in August.

West Coast operations director Mark Davies said 96 barrels of highly arsenic-contaminated material were removed for treatment and disposal at a specialised facility.

"This area has a fascinating social and industrial history that we want visitors to experience, and the remediation is key to that. The site is now ready for us to develop a mining history experience that will complement our existing network of attractions such as Denniston and the Brunner Mine Site."

He said the clean up cost $2.6 million.

The processing plant operated from 1938 till 1951, when the mine closed and was abandoned after the mine shaft collapsed.

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